Prof. Ahmet Davutoglu
We, as members of CESRAN, attended to the conference entitled “Turkey’s foreign policy in a changing world” held at the St Antony’s College of University of Oxford in which Minister of Turkish Foreign Affairs Prof. Ahmet Davutoglu delivered a speech (a keynote lecture) on “Turkish Vision of Regional and Global Order” on 1 May 2010. The participant/ speaker profile of the three – day long conference was presumably giving clues about how eloquent and powerful the keynote lecture of Prof. Ahmet Davutoglu would be. However, before the conference, we were planning to issue just an observation paper or short report. Nonetheless, after listening to Prof. Davutoglu, we decided to publish the whole lecture which, we believe, is very valuable.
His speech devoted to reassert the historically-rooted and seemingly irresolvable problems, however, showing care not to touch a nerve. Prof. Davutoglu smoothly positioned his (as he called) humble opinions on the side of reconciliation and dialog with the neighbouring zones. He talked about two foreign policy measures in his speech; historical and geographical continuity and zero – problem aim, driven by a motivation that acknowledges Turkey as the successor state of Ottoman Empire. In this, Turkey is meant to shoulder responsibilities towards neighbouring regions, but excluding Neo-Ottomanist intensions as Davutoglu claimed. Undertaking so-called formidable problems, with the motivation of reconciliation and negotiation, seemingly brought into existence a unique and friendly-oriented Turkish foreign policy reading; consistent with the traditional foreign policy implementations of Turkey so far.
“Regardless of any political and ideological comprehension, Prof. Davutoglu alleged to be capable of securing his name to be given to the era of his occupancy. We hope his result-oriented foreign affairs vision will lead to a well-integrated and securely-bonded neighbourhood as he argues.”
On the other hand, it should also be mentioned that his zero-problem aimed political approaches are in some cases radically at odds with some of the barely conservative scholars’ interpretations of Turkish foreign policy; such seen in the relations with Armenia. This is probably due to the hesitations and critiques which reflect the embedded perceptions and conceptualizations of threat that neighbouring countries have claimed to have posed for decades in Turkey. Regardless of any political and ideological comprehension, Prof. Davutoglu alleged to be capable of securing his name to be given to the era of his occupancy. We hope his result-oriented foreign affairs vision will lead to a well-integrated and securely -bonded neighbourhood as he argues.
In the transcription we stuck to the original speech without attempting to alter the expressions, except in some cases where the meaning tends to shift. We embarked on a categorization of the keynote lecture to facilitate the reading of the speech with respect to the own course of the speech and to the signposting language used by Prof. Davutoglu.
Husrev Tabak Managing Editor of JGA and PR Postgraduate Student at SSEES, UCL
Turkish Vision of Regional and Global Order: Theoretical Background and Practical Implementation
In my presentation, firstly I would like to mention and underline certain issues about the historical transformation of global world order… Then I will try to underline the main problems, today we are facing about global governance, in political economy and cultural fields. Thirdly I will focus on Turkish position within the context of global and regional order. And then I will try to give some issues [which have] impacts on Turkish foreign policy.
- Historical Transformation of World Order
When we look at the long term historical transformation of the search for global order I can say [that] there are four different stages and now we are at the fourth stage. It is important to understand the shift of the concept of the order. Of course this is just a general framework of conceptualisation in order to understand the existing problems… In the history we had geopolitics of world order. Let me say [firstly] the traditional one.
a. Traditional World Order and Geopolitics
In that geopolitics of traditional world order there was a geographical continuity and economic centrality, and different cultural presence of certain locations… When we look at the Empire of Alexander the Great,
“When we look at the long term historical transformation of the search for global order I can say [that] there are four different stages and now we are at the fourth stage.”
for example, it emerged right at the centre of Afro-Eurasia and there was a geopolitical continuity from Macedonia up to Afghanistan or Egypt. Even before that, when we look at the Persepolis, the Persian Empire, its geographical continuity was the main imagination of the leaders or imperial structures. They had a centre and geographical zone of control/ order and there were certain cities and centres which were able to transact in economic and cultural sense. The cities in the name of Alexander was formation of this character of the traditional world order; geographical continuity, political centre, economic order and cultural centres of transaction. This continued until 18th-19th century and almost all traditional imperial structures had this structure after the Roman Empire like Han Empire in China from the East, … Abbasids, later Ottomans. This was a traditional geopolitics, although they did not know the concept of geopolitics but that was the structure.
b. Colonial World Order and Geopolitics
The second phase of concepts of order was the colonial order. In this new concept and new geopolitics there was a geographical discontinuity. Those who are colonizing forces, they did not want to control fully everything in the sense like Alexander the Great or the Ottomans when they came to new conquered lands. For example British relations with India or French relations with the French Colonies in West Africa; it was not like the relations between Romans and conquered lands or Alexander the Great and the Mesopotamia or Ottomans [and] Balkans. Indian economy was linked to the British Economy; but not in the sense that for example Balkan economy or Black Sea economy was linked to Istanbul. This was totally different geopolitics; geo colonial geopolitics brought its all logic. And it also created certain alienations in certain regions. For example, Malaysian economy was controlled by British, Indonesian economy was controlled by Dutch. So regional economies were divided or were alienated from each other; Syrian economy was under French control, Iraqi economy was under British control. So, the world was divided by the colonial orders.
“Geography seemingly has lost some significance because we have internet, technological facilities, and extraordinary potential of interaction.”
c. Cold War World Order and Geopolitics
The third stage was geopolitics of Cold War. Again, these national geographical continuousnesses were alienated from each other and the Cold War geopolitics brought a new reality that this time whole world was divided in two big geopolitics so that, for example South Yemen was pro-Soviet; so the natural geographical zones were divided. Turkey was in NATO; Syria was closed to Warsaw Pact; and Turkish-Syria relations were not anymore relations of two divided world.
D. New Geopolitics: Expectations from the “New Order”
[In] the post-Cold War era, we have faced many difficulties and now we are in search of a new world order but I do not mean the concept in the 1990s. This time, there is a new geopolitics. Geography seemingly has lost some significance because we have internet, technological facilities, and extraordinary potential of interaction. But at the same time, the traditional geographical con- tinuity did emerge again after the collapse of colonial structures, after the collapse of Cold-War geopolitics. Now, we have a new era where in all these alienated regions started to interact again in cultural or economical or political sense. And now we are facing a new reality. What do we have now in our hands? First of all, in the sense of global order, we have a question of global political governance. Today there is a chal- lenge of how and to which institutions we can establish a new concept of order. In another speech, I referred to the modern era; after each global war there was a new search for a new balance of power and a new structure of order in Europe. For example, after the Thirty Years wars [with] Westphalia Peace there was a new concept of order; after the Napoleonic Wars we had Congress of Vienna; after the First World War we had the League of Nations; after the Second Cold War we had the United Nations. But, after the Cold -War, it was a war in different instruments and in different zones, there was no such a congress; there was no [such] a peace; there was no [such] a global consensus on the basic values, from 1989 until 2001. We had a long era of ceasefire. Ceasefires were located in the traditional geopolitical zones; frozen conflicts, unresolved issues. Still we are dealing with the question of how to reform the United Nations… because the UN reflected partially colonial order; partially Cold War order. But now there are new faces; there are new risen powers.
i. Future of the Global Governance
This is the main question. The future of global governance brings us a question of how to reform, restructure regional orders; without having regional or sub regional orders there cannot be global order. Now this world cannot be carried in balance. There should be a new concept of global political governance which is inclusive not power-centric only. There should be certain new values we have to inject. I will come what should be these values. Security and freedom are two main searches for human-beings throughout the centuries. This new global political governance should be based on a new concept of security and freedom for all humanity not just for some people, for some continents, for some nations. And there should be an inclusive political structure.
ii. Global Economic Order
Second problem of international global or- der is economic global order. Again same year, in 2008, a financial crisis emerged in United States. Many of us thought the USA is a huge economy, they can contain this crisis, in a few months it became an economic crisis not financial crisis; in five-six months it became a social crisis for many societies because it has created a big issue of unemployment. Why? Because still there is no new financial architecture of fitting to the new economy. The financial architecture today; what we have is some reforms, structures of Bretton Woods exactly like the United Nations. All the financial institutions, IMF, World Bank, they are from the concept of order, from Colonial era to the Cold War era in 1940 -1950s. There is a huge need of reforming international global economy. What will we need:… New value, a just distribution; without a just distribution of economic values, there can not be an economical order. Productivity is important, but just is [as] important as the productivity. I will come how Turkey is approaching to this issue.
“There should be a new concept of global political governance which is inclusive not power-centric only. There should be certain new values we have to inject.”
iii. Global Cultural Order
There should be a new concept of global cultural order. The cultural concepts of 19 th century [and] 20 th century cannot be validtoday. A Eurocentric cultural approach cannot be shaping the future of humanity. We have to be friend to each other. Usually, we are in our own test tube, we [have been taught] in an environment, in a Eurocentric environment and do you think that it is the history and this is the future. This is not any more so. Chinese culture is reviving, Indian culture is reviving. Chinese economy is reviv- ing; parallel to this Indian economy is reviving. Latin American economy is reviving. There is a need of a new inclusive cultural order. Without that, thinking that all other nations will be enlightened by our European history, we will be losing the momentum of the history, history is now in a very dynamic shape; there is a huge transformation. Therefore, there is a need of a new concept of order in political, economic and cultural sense.
2. New Global Order and Turkish Positioning: The Revival
a. Pro-Active Vision: Historical Responsibility and Geographical Continuity
What is Turkey doing now, just, where I see us since I said Turkish Global Vision? Why… are we so active in foreign policy, within this context?
i. Historical Responsibility
When we look at Turkey, whether we like or dislike, there is a historical fact that Turkey is the successor of the last traditional state of order, Ottoman State. Ottoman State was the last example of the traditional geopolitics. When I say this, some of you may think that now I will start to speak Neo – Ottomanism. I have never used this concept and I do not think that Ottomanism could be a trend but if you want to understand the
“A Eurocentric cultural approach cannot be shaping the future of humanity. There is a need of a new inclusive cultural order.”
difficulties of responsibilities of Turks today, you have to understand the traditional concept of order. Because Ottoman State rep- resented Kadim. When they used Kadim, they did not use it by coincidence. They were saying that “my order is the last order of this tradition coming from Alexander, Romans, Byzantine, and Persian tradition”. Now, what is the political consequence of this, I want to say, whenever there is a new crisis around us, all these people or nations, they [turn] their face to Turkey and they have certain expectations from Turkey. We realized this in 1990’s when the Bosnian war erupted. In 1960s and 70s, we did not have such a question. Suddenly, we realized there is a Bosnian issue, it means a Balkan issue. Why? Because of the end of the Cold War geopolitics, there was a new era and all these nations had certain expectations from Turkey. Let me give you just an example, Cengiz [Çandar] Bey and Soli [Özel] Bey knows this… We went to Afghanistan together; we visited North Afghanistan, Balkh. The [governor] of Balkh welcomed us, we were sitting and our journalist friends were with us. We did not say this is an official meeting, they witnessed this. The [governor] of Balkh started to say “welcome minister”, est. words of hospitality, then he said “we need a hospital in that street, we need a school in that neighbourhood, and we need a mosque in another corner”. He started to give a list. I said “one minute -Not ` that one minute`! laughs- I called council general and took a coordinator, then I said “please take note we will do all these things”. Cengiz Bey told me, “I think it is so strange. He is requesting from you as if you are minister of Afghanistan or he is the governor of Konya”. … I said yes, this is North Afghanistan, Balkh. We may think that we are Turkey, we do not have any interest there, we will not take oil there or no economic interests but they expect this from us because they think that Istanbul was the centre of a traditional imagination of order and Turkey has to do. One week after Afghanistan I went to Sancak, Serbia. Exactly the same logic, they said “we need hospital, we need gynaecology”… we built a clinic in Sancak. Now, I am not a minister of an initial state only. … this is the difference of Turkish geographical and historical background and because of these expectations, I cannot say, for example, in Sancak people are calling me neo- Ottomanist. … They expect and if we cannot solve their problems, they will come to Turkey. In Kirklareli, there is a refugee camp, Gazi Osman Pasa Refugee Camp; it is like a barometer of the Balkans. In whichever country you have a crisis in the Balkans; people are coming to this camp. In late 1980s,Turkish minority from Bulgaria came to this camp, during Bosnian war Bosnian came, during Macedonia war Macedonians came, during Kosovo war Albanians came. So, similarly, when there was a pressure from Saddam on Kurds in Northern Iraq, they came to Turkey. In one night, 500,000 Kurdish innocent people came to Turkey. We cannot say “no, we are now another nation state, no.” Turkey had to accept this.
“Turkish-Syrian territory is not natural at all. Throughout the centuries, there was not such a border between Turkey and Syria or between [Gazi]Antep and Aleppo. Turkish-Georgian border is not a natural border at all. Batumi and Trabzon were not so alienated from each other like in during the Cold War.”
ii. Geographical Continuity
[Being] a successor of the last traditional imperial structure in the Middle East and Balkans and Caucasia… this is some special character but geographical continuity is another character of Turkish public. None of the Turkish territories were fixed, static territory, except Turkish Ottoman territory. For example, Turkish-Syrian territory is not natural at all. Throughout the centuries, there was not such a border between Turkey and Syria or between [Gazi]Antep and Aleppo. Antep and Aleppo, they were “twin cities” for thousands of years but suddenly there was a border. First it was a national border be- tween Turkey and Syria then it became a border of two poles during Cold War and we had to protect that border by mines. Turkish-Georgian border is not a natural border at all. Batumi and Trabzon were not so alienated from each other like in during the Cold War. Mosul and Diyarbakir, Arbil and Mardin, they were not alienated from each other throughout the centuries. Edirne and Skopje or Salonika was not alienated from each other. 19th century, do not go to the 16th century, the natural link was from Salonika to Skopje to Belgrade in the South – North direction in economic sense; or from Salonika to Edirne to Istanbul from West to the East, there was a natural border. Sud- denly, all these cities were alienated from each other. There were loss of links between Salonika and Skopje or between Salonika and Edirne. Edirne was the capital city of Ottomans and was one of the most dynamic cities; today Edirne is a small town, why, because it has lost its hinterland, [now is] deadlock of Turkey. I mean no way out, especially, during Cold War because there was Bulgaria behind. These geopolitical continuities did emerge, historical responsibilities did emerge. It is not a question of shifting of access orbits; it is a question of geog- raphy and history.
iii. Pro-Active Diplomacy
Now, what is the consequence of this? When I say pro-active peace diplomacy, I mean that we cannot wait as Turkey; we cannot wait until a crisis emerged in …[the] regions around us. We have to prevent cri
sis before they emerge. We cannot wait until the war approaches to us. We have to prevent the war and tensions and this is a natural concept of a new regional order, let me say. Just to summarize how we should response, just one another dimension. So Turkey was seen as the centre of traditional geopolitical order, was never colonized during Colonial Order and during Cold War. Turkey was seen a wing country of NATO, not central country. Now, the meaning of geography is changing. When, I am sure you discussed many things about Strategic Depth, when I wrote the book I [suggested] that you cannot change history and geography, these are given to you. It is my history … or my geography I cannot change it. I cannot say “Turkey is in a problematic geography; let’s take Turkey to Latin America or somewhere else”. You cannot say it, this is your challenge but you can reinterpret your geography and your history. You must reinterpret your geography and history when international context is changing. Interna- tional context has changed when I wrote the book “the strategic depth”. I tried wrongly or correctly, you may criticise, what I tried to do was to reinterpret geography and history within this new international context. How was this interpretation, my assumption was this, “Turkey has to reintegrate with the neighbouring zones”. Turkey should not be alienated from the neighbouring zones. This is the destiny of this country. We cannot have permanent enemies. We have to have permanent friends or a new approach of reintegration with the neighbouring zones. We have to have, of course, the objective of full membership to EU, but even for this objective we have to deal with our neighbour- hood as well.
Now, what do we have in our hand? … If we have this global order and regional aspects of this global order, especially in the traditional geopolitical zones… what we try to do…, as Turkey, in order to fulfil this mission.
b. Global Order and the Position of Turkey
First of all, today, … the main issue of global governance is reformation of United Na- tions [and] Turkey is today a UN Security Council member. Secondly, for international global order, we are a member of G20 and Turkish economy is 16th biggest economy today. In 2002, Turkey was the 26th big- gest economy in the world, today, we are 16th. Thirdly, if there is a need of a new approach in cultural order; therefore we started the initiative of Alliance of Civilizations. [With these]… we are trying to contribute to global order. We have a new vision, yes, there must be a much more participatory global governance. Participatory in the sense that the role of G5 should not be seen like in a hierarchical structure but that should be reinterpreted. Yes, in G20, we will not be there as Turkey only, we have to provide new alternatives for economic issues. It was interesting, last year [in April] we went to Tanzania with President [Abdullah] Gul. Tanzanian president talked to President Gul… he said, “in G20, there was no strong Afri- can president, and please we expect Turkey to be spokesman of Africa as well, [spokesman] of the problems of Africa. Yes, we cannot say, “we are member of NATO, we are member of OECD, we are from the North, there is no need for Turkey to deal with the issues of the South, No”. Yes, we are from the North but we have to deal with the issues of the South because our economy also carries the characters of southern economy. We have a dynamic population, very competitive market and we have to respond to these challenges. In cultural issues, yes we are part of the western alliance, we have a strong ambition for EU membership but at the same time, we have a strong Eastern background and this is not leverage, it is a big asset for us. So, for the future of the global order, if there is a tension between East and West, between North and South, Turkey is like laboratory…we are representing all these and it is a big challenge. I am happy, in spite of these difficulties, to live in Turkey today, to represent Turkey, and to deal with all these issues because this creates and brings a huge responsibility.
“…we want to have a secure neighbourhood based on common understanding of security; in the Middle East, in Balkans, in Caucasia, in Gulf because we belong to all these regions. Turkey has a multidimensional character of geography.”
c. Regional Order and the Position of Turkey
Coming to the regional order, how Turkey is responding to several regional questions. We specified four principles to deal with regional order in theory. Practically, we have other principle I will refer it.
i. Securing Neighbourhood
One is; we want to have a secure neighbourhood based on common understanding of security; in the Middle East, in Balkans, in Caucasia, in Gulf because we belong to all these regions. Turkey has a multidimensional character of geography. Turkey is a Balkan country, a Middle Eastern country, a Caucasian country, a Black Sea country, a Mediterranean country, a Caspian Sea country so we have to deal with [all] these security environments around. Why are we so active in Iranian Nuclear programme? … it is not because we are defending Iran, because we want to have a secure environ- ment. We do not want an Iran having a Nu- clear weapon yes, but we also do not want any military tension in our regions… In [last] six months, we have Turkey-Bosnia-Serbia trilateral mechanism; I went to Belgrade five times, to Sarajevo 6 times. I met Serbian minister 12 times within 5 months and Bosnian minister 14 times. Why? Because we do not want a new tension in Bosnia and we know very well, as international communities [do], if there is a new Bosnian issue, a hot crisis, everybody [will] turn their face to there. If there is no hot issue or crisis, there [won’t be any] attention…. Bosnia is a back- bone of Balkan issue and we have to deal with that. As successfully we were able to solve the main issues between Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Last Saturday (24 th April 2010) we had a summit, Turkey – Bosnia-Serbia presidents of three countries met in Istanbul. When we started that proc- ess, nobody was even imagining that we would achieve this; but we did. Why? Because; we want to have a secure Balkan, a secure Middle East and a secure Caucasia around us.
Prof. Davutoglu responded the question on Turkish-Israel Relations as following:
..Our relation with Israel was the relation of two nation-states and in Israel there is a Turkish-Jewish society living there; and it was a bridge between Turkey and Israel. But whenever Israel applies policies against the vision which I described, we had really negative bad relationships. In 2008, I can say, when they had a vision of peace with Syria; we run mediation, I was the mediator between two sides. Personally I visited Damascus and Tel Aviv more than 15 times in two years, in a confidential diplomacy, just to arrange these indirect talks. But when they attacked Gaza, indiscriminately, against the civilian population of Gaza, we reacted, this reaction was correct and we will continue to do this. We don’t want any poly or action in our region which is against peace and which will risk the regional stability and security environment. We cannot tolerate now what is going on in Gaza. As I said like people of North Afghanistan, people of our region –Middle East– have certain expecta- tions from Turkey.
“…Our policy is clear when Israel applies a policy compatible with our policy of peace then there will be no problem between Turkey and Israel. But if they continue to isolate innocent people of Gaza, [via] creating a ghetto in Gaza, we cannot allow these to continue.”
Our policy is clear when Israel applies a policy compatible with our policy of peace then there will be no problem between Turkey and Israel. But if they continue to isolate innocent people of Gaza, [via] creating a ghetto in Gaza, today Gaza is practically a ghetto; we cannot allow these to continue. We will defend the rights of the people of Gaza everywhere but when there is a change in Israel attitude we will be willing to continue all these diplomatic efforts; indirect negotiations we can start any times. But it is up to the Israeli leadership to decide “what they want”. Do they want ‘two -state solution’ or ‘one-state solution’ where Palestinians and Jewish [people] are living to- gether? Or ‘no-state solution’ which is not acceptable to anyone. We cannot afford a Palestine where there is one Jewish state of Israel on one side and there is no authority, no economic development, and no state in the other side. This is not sustain- able at all.
i. Political Dialog and Diplomacy
Second principle is high level political dialog. In order to solve these issues, we think that the only instrument in our hand is political dialog and negotiation, diplomacy and political dialog. And creatively we developed a new structure what we call it as “high level strategic council meetings” and we established these mechanisms with Syria, with Iraq, with Italy, with Spain and this month in May, we will be doing that high level strategic council meetings with Greece and Russia, with two so-called enemies for Turkey; Russia during Cold War and Greece before that. We want to change these imaginations. We do not want any tension. We want to have high level political dialog and I am happy to inform you now, after two weeks, 13th of May, Turkish Prime Minister will be visiting Athens with 10 ministers and we will be having joint cabinet meeting dur- ing this difficult time of Greece because we think that the destiny of Greece is our des- tiny. We do not want a poor neighbour and we do not want tense neighbour relations. Two days before coming here, I had a meet- ing with our 10 ministers with whom we will be going to Athens and the instruction of Prime Minister was clear and I talked all of them, “please each of you will study what we can do with Greece, which agreements are favouring”, we want to have full integration with Greek economy. If they fail, we will fail. If we succeed, they will suc- ceed. We want to have full energy, transportation, and trade integration. I am not referring to this crisis, when I say poor I do not want to insult or anything, but I will say the same thing for Armenia and Northern Iraq as well. I will come to that point.
What I want to say is [that] we are sharing the same destiny. We want to have full integration with our neighbourhood. So that high level contact will ease the tension. And before this, Mr. Medvedev is coming and we will be having a joint cabinet with Russia.
“…the destiny of Greece is our destiny. We do not want a poor neighbour and we do not want tense neighbour relations.”
Prof. Davutoglu responded the question on Turkish-Greek Relations as following:
About Turkish Greek relations; when I said; we have an intention to have a high level strategic council meeting. We did not have this intention because there was an eco- nomic crisis in Greece, no, this is our policy. We make this offer to Greece; and now next week I will be in Ukraine, we will make the same offer to Ukraine, and to Bulgaria we decided to have. So, with all of our neighbours, we want to have this mecha- nism. It is not trying to help Greece, …we want to develop economic prosperity to- gether, when I met Mr Papandreou on De- cember in order to organise this high level strategic council, I said “you came to our help when there was an earthquake, now this economic crisis is like an earthquake we have to share everything, whatever we can do. This is not somebody’s helping to another one. This is an issue of common destiny. We don’t see Greece in that sense a country who needs help, no, we want to show our solidarity as well as with a common vision we want to re-establish Turkish Greek relationship based on a new paradigm”. A paradigm which will bring all state institutions together, will make Aegean sea a sea of peace and prosperity. We want Turkish mainland, Anatolia, and Aegean islands not a tense relationship but we want to have energy connection to islands, we want to have trade connections. If possible and Schengen Regime allows we want to have free trade, visa-free movement between islands and Anatolia. Why? Because only through these we can achieve peace, we can have a sustainable regional peace in Aegean Sea. This is not a reaction to Crisis in Greece, please don’t misunderstand me and I don’t want to be misunderstood, this is an issue of vision. I am happy to say … they have the same vision.
“We want Turkish mainland, Anatolia, and Aegean islands not a tense relationship but we want to have energy connection to islands, we want to have trade connec- tions. If possible and Schengen Regime allows we want to have free trade, visa – free movement between islands and Anatolia.”
iii. Economic Interdependency
Third Principle, we want to have economic interdependency in regional environment. Economic interdependency is the best instrument of peace because if you have eco- nomical interdependency then possible tension will harm both societies and therefore they have to react [when] there is a possibility of tension. Therefore, we started to have the policy of visa free regime with our neighbours. We want to have full economic freedom. And there is logic behind this. Please imagine the world map in economic sense; in the west, Germany- France-Italy, put a line; in the north Russia, in the East China and India, all the rest of Euro -Asia and plus Africa the biggest economy is Turkish economy… Because of this dynamic character, we want to have a visa free and free trade regime around us, in order to achieve this we want to have security around us. Therefore, we said our principle, our policy; zero problems with our neighbours; [this policy] and visa liberalisation with our neighbours are compatible.
Now, do you expect any low level tension between Turkey and Syria? No. If I assume that not these leaders but possible other leaders … want to create problem between Turkey and Syria, [firstly] people [will] rebel against their leaders, I mean people of Antep and people of Aleppo. Because, now they are getting benefit … [from] these good relations. An owner of the restaurant talk to [one of] our ministers (to Egemen Bagis) when he went there. He came and … said “Hocam all Antep people, they like you very much because of this visa [free policy]… one restaurant owner said ‘before three or four Syrian were coming everyday to have lunch or dinner to my restaurant, now everyday around 100 or 150 people are coming and they are making reservation from Aleppo before coming. They are coming, having dinner and going back to Aleppo.’” This is the best way of peace.
Between Turkey and Georgia; we are us- ing now Batumi Airport as our domes-tic airport and Turkish citizens are go- ing to Batumi with- out passport, with showing the identity card, because, like I said, of geographical continuity. Artvin was in the hinter- land of Batumi not Rize or Trabzon, people of Artvin, they were doing everything with Batumi before. But during Cold War geopolitics, Batumi and Artvin were separated, alienated from each other. Now we want to restructure this. We are implementing full reintegration with our neighbours and we will continue to do this. Last year, when we went to Baghdad we were criticized that Prime Minister is taking a huge risk because of taking 10 ministers with him to Baghdad when there were sev- eral bombardments in [there]. If there was a terrorist attack, half of the cabined would be buried in Baghdad but we said “no”. This is the time to have solidarity with Baghdad with Iraq. We signed 48 agreements in one meeting.
“With Armenia, of course, we want to open border because we want to have full integration with our neighbours. But opening Turkish-Armenian border will not be enough, we have to open Armenia-Azeri border as well.”
I am sure those who follow Turkish politics in 2007 [would know], all opposition leaders and many people in Turkey were making pressure on government that; “we have to isolate Northern Iraq in the economic sense, close the border, close the Habur Gate”. We resisted, we did not accept. Why because we believed that, the best way of peace is economic interdependency. Today Northern Iraqi economy is integrated to Turkish economy, when I went to Arbil last year as the first Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs visiting Arbil, the Bazaar of Arbil; they celebrated, they welcomed and it was like a Turkish city; Turkish adver- tisements, companies etc. Now how can you close borders to them? Closing border would not bring peace or security, making borders irrelevant brings you security, like EU case. With Armenia, of course, we want to open border because we want to have full integration with our neighbours. But opening Turkish – Armenian border will not be enough, we have to open Armenia-Azeri border as well. So that there will be a regional stability. This is a vision for the region for Caucasus, for Balkans, or for Middle East.
iv. Multi-cultural, Multi-sectarian Coexistence and Harmony
The forth principle… is multi-cultural, multi- sectarian coexistence and harmony. None of these cities of countries in history were uniformed. All of them were mixed and multi cultural. Let me give an example of Iraq, Yugoslavia and Afghanistan. Why these three states failed after the Cold War? Why not Romania but Yugoslavia, why not Syria but Iraq? Why not Pakistan but Afghanistan? In one article I said: “Because of three common characteristics; one common characteristic is; all these three states have been the buffer zone states throughout the history. Yugoslavia region between East and the West Roman Empires; Iraq between Sasanian and Byzantine and between Otto- mans and Safavids; Afghanistan between British and Russian etc. Secondly all these three countries are on transaction roots of economic trade route, silk route, and now energy. But the third is more important. All these three countries are new models of the respective region. Yugoslavia was a small Balkans; all ethnicities and all sects of Balkans were present in Yugoslavia. Iraq is and was a mini model of Middle East; Arabs, Kurds, Turkoman, Christians, Sunnis, Shiites, Yazidis. Do you know, for example,… around two hundreds of thousand Sebeks are living around [Northern Iraq], they are mixed Kurdish-Turkish group; some are Alevi and some are Sunni. But they have a cultural entity. Similarly in Afghanistan; Ta- jiks, Pashtuns, Uzbeks, Turkoman, Sunnis, and Shiites [are exist in a cultural entity].
“Cities are important than countries. We have to keep cities multi-cultural.”
Now, how can we manage these things? The only [way to manage] is; we have to keep cities. Cities are important than coun- tries. We have to keep cities multicultural. When I went to Iraq in October (probably 2009), first I went to Basra, … then Mosul. In all these… cities, I gave the same message: “We don’t want to have pure Shiite Basra, Sunni should continue to stay in Basra. We don’t want to have a pure Sunni Mosul, a pure Kurdish Arbil. [If so] then many things will be lost”. Throughout the centuries these cities were mixed. In the Middle East, in Balkans and Caucasus no city is uniform; historically they have been multicutural. But now, because of these ethnic or sectarian tensions [some] want to have a pure Shiite Basra, some want to have pure Sunni Mosul, [and] some want to have pure Kurdish Arbil. This will be the end of everything in our region. Or some want to have pure Bosniak Travnic pure Croat Mostar, [so the] Serbian[s]… This will be the end of everything. We have to let hem to [get] mix[ed] again instead of purification of them. If we have mixed cities then countries can survive. Therefore we want to have a peaceful environment.
Prof. Davutoglu responded the question on the purification policies of Israeli state on Jerusalem as following:
The same principle is varied for this [Palestinian-Israeli] issue. We are completely against … purification, in the sense in Palestine for example. … There are certain ideas when they refer to Jewish state of Israel, to make Israel pure Jewish state. I think this, from this perspective, is not compatible with our vision. We want to have Jerusalem as the historic Jerusalem where all religions, all ethnicities are living in peace like the concept of peace in the name of Jerusalem. If we have pure Jewish West Jerusalem and an invaded East Jerusalem there cannot be peace in Jerusalem. And if there won’t be peace in Jerusalem there cannot be peace in the region. Therefore what we need is a new vision, where Jewish and Muslim communities are living together and knowing each other; rather than sepa- rating each other, rather than creating a pure Jewish part and excluding even 20 percent Arab community from these Jewish lands. Or pure Palestinian land which is di- vided by a wall. This is against the history of our region. We have to find ways how to reintegrate them.
Just to conclude [with] some important points. Today we are facing a comprehen- sive issue of global order and this crisis of global order is reflected to several regional instabilities. Turkey, as a country in the cen- tre of Africa and Eurasia, is facing all these challenges because of natural continuity in geographical and historical sense. Turkey wants to reintegrate with all these neighbouring zones and looking to these neighbouring regions from a perspective based on common security, economic inter- dependency, multi-cultural coexistence and political dialogue. [She] wants to have zero problems with all neighbours.
“Turkey wants to Reintegrate with all these neighbouring zones and looking to these neighbouring regions from a perspective based on common security, economic interdependency, multi-cultural coexistence and political dialogue. [She] wants to have zero problems with all neighbours.”
And with this logic which is compatible with the European Union philosophy, we want to integrate to EU, we want to bring EU a peaceful neighbourhood. And through EU, we want to re-establish security and free- dom in our society, because this is the only way of legitimacy. We want to provide security to our own nation only through expanding democratic values and expanding the zone of freedom. Therefore we have to reform our political system. And we will be opening to new global issues in the UN Security Council; [in there] we will be very active. We will be supporting the idea of transforming G20 into a new structure. We will be continuing to be very active in Iran’s socialisation … in the future. So, none of our foreign policy objectives is reactive. We are not trying to respond crisis. But our foreign policy is visionary; a vision based on human rights, historical continuity, geographical continuity, peace and stability, and economic interdependence. This visionary approach, we hope that, contribute [to] the surrounding regions and [to] the global peace. Thank you.
* CESRAN is grateful to publish this keynote lecture which has been edited by Husrev Tabak. We would like to thank Husrev Tabak for his efforts to prepare the Preface and edit the entire transcription.
Besides, CESRAN is thankful to Rahman Dag and Aksel Ersoy for their eminent contributions to transcribing process.